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  • Writer's pictureayush devak

China Is About to Send Three Astronauts to Build Its New Space Station....

China is about to send three astronauts into space to live aboard the country's Tiangong space station, which is still under construction.

The launch is due to take place some time in June, though the rocket that will take the astronauts into space was rolled to the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on Sunday, China's state-run CGTN news outlet reported.

The roughly 200-foot tall rocket, a Long March 2F model designed to carry China's Shenzhou manned capsules, will take the astronauts up to the operational 55-foot long, 14-foot diameter central core of the Tiangong station, which was launched into orbit in April last year and manned a couple of months later.

The three astronauts will remain on the station for six months and will oversee the installation of two more modules—lab sections known as the Wentian and Mengtian labs—later in the year. Once the station is complete the three modules will form a T-shape, but for now the station consists of the core.

Before next month's launch there are a number of preparations that still need to be made, though the rocket has already undergone a test in which it was filled with fuel.

Large-Scale Test

In the coming days Chinese scientists "will conduct a large-scale system interface test on the rocket system, and then proceed to a whole system drill, which marks the entry of the combo into the prelaunch status," Zhang Fusheng, chief designer for the manned spacecraft system, told China Media Group.

Next month's launch will be just one of six that are scheduled to take place this year to complete the construction of Tiangong.

Once it's finished, the station will be an orbital research lab, similar to how the larger International Space Station (ISS) operates currently.

Tiangong is set to operate for 10 to 15 years, in which time astronauts will use it to carry out science experiments and provide public science communications. Last year, Nature reported that around 1,000 experiments involving multiple countries had already been tentatively approved.

It's believed that China is open to allowing foreign astronauts to live and work on the space station. Ji Qiming, assistant director of the China Manned Space Agency, said in a news conference last year, according to the state-owned China Daily newspaper: "We believe that after our space station is completed in the near future, we will see Chinese and foreign astronauts flying and working together."

China has not been allowed to participate in the ISS. Since 2011, NASA, a significant ISS partner, has been banned by Congress from collaborating with China due to human rights issues and national security concerns, Reuters reported in 2015.

Credit: MSN


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